Wednesday, July 2, 2014

[STREAM] Wadada Leo Smith's "Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and the Civil Rights Act of 1964" in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT of 1964

In celebration of the
50th Anniversary of the

- signed into law July 2, 1964
by President Lyndon B. Johnson -
Cuneiform Records is streaming for ONE WEEK ONLY
beginning July 2, 2014 

Pulitzer Prize in Music Finalist
"Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and the Civil Rights Act of 1964"
in its entirety (24 min) 
Smith’s Civil Rights Masterpiece
released by Cuneiform Records

from July 2, 2014 to July 9, 2014, CLICK a link below:

Wadada Leo Smith
Ten Freedom Summers

Genre: Jazz / Classical / Creative Music
Format: 4-CD Box Set / Digital Download
Release Date: May 22, 2012


"Ten Freedom Summers is one of my life's defining works." - Wadada Leo Smith
Ten Freedom Summers Track Listing:
Disc One / Total time  67:30
1. Dred Scott: 1857 (11:11)
2. Malik Al Shabazz and the People of the Shahada (5:15)
3. Emmett Till: Defiant, Fearless (18:02)
4. Thurgood Marshall and Brown vs. Board of Education: A Dream of Equal Education, 1954 (16:06)
5. John F. Kennedy's New Frontier and the Space Age, 1960 (22:12)

Disc Two / Total time  68:02
6. Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 381 Days (12:43)
7. Black Church (16:34)
8. Freedom Summer: Voter Registration, Acts of Compassion and Empowerment, 1964 (12:32)
9. Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (24:12)

Disc Three / Total time  62:43
10. The Freedom Riders Ride (16:42)
11. Medgar Evers: A Love-Voice of a Thousand Years’ Journey For Liberty and Justice (10:23)
12. The D.C. Wall: A War Memorial For All Times (12:18)
13. Buzzsaw: The Myth of a Free Press  (15:02)
14. The Little Rock Nine: A Force For Desegregation In Education, 1957 (13:50)

Disc Four / Total time  67:54
15. America, Parts 1, 2 & 3 (14:14)
16. September 11th, 2001: A Memorial   (9:30)
17. Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, 1964  (9:06)
18. Democracy (14:30)
19. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Memphis, the Prophecy (20:34)

Golden Quintet (#1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 17, 18)  Southwest Chamber Music (#5, 7, 9, 11)
Golden Quartet[S. Ibarra] (#10, 12)  GQ4[P. akLaff] (#6, 13, 15)
GQ4[S.] & SWC (#3, 14, 19)

Ten Freedom Summers is a monumental tribute to the American Civil Rights movement created by composer, improvisor, trumpeter and music theorist Wadada Leo Smith, a titan in contemporary jazz and creative music. Smith, who was born and raised in Mississippi under segregation, is one of the major figures in the international avant garde; DownBeat Magazine recently (summer 2014) named him one of the “80 Coolest Things in Jazz”. Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers was released by Cuneiform in 2012 as a 4-CD set, containing 19 works that Smith had composed over a 35-year period. Performed and recorded by Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet/Quintet and Southwest Chamber Music. The music embraces both jazz and classical music.

When released in 2012, Ten Freedom Summers was acclaimed internationally, and topped many critics’ “Best of Year” lists.  In 2013, it was named one of the three finalists to the Pulitzer Prize in Music, the most prestigious award in American music.

Ten Freedom Summers has been performed live in its entirety - in a series of three special performances - in a number of cities world-wide.  Notable performances of the entire work include its premiere in Los Angeles at RedCat in 2011, and in 2013 in a special series of performances held in Washington DC at the Atlas Performing Arts Center to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington (August 1963). In addition, Smith has performed various works from Ten Freedom Summers with his Golden Quartet at numerous festivals worldwide.  Smith continues to compose new pieces for Ten Freedom Summers.

Wadada Leo Smith
Pultizer Prize Finalist 2013

Wadada Leo Smith was chosen as a Pulitzer Finalist for Music in 2013 for Ten Freedom Summers. 3 official 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music finalists were selected: "Wadada Leo Smith for "Ten Freedom Summers," recording released May 22, 2012, an expansive jazz work that memorializes 10 key moments in the history of civil rights in America, fusing composed and improvised passages into powerful, eloquent music. (Cuneiform Records)".
[See: 2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalists -]

"By selecting “Ten Freedom Summers” as a finalist among 157 entries, this jury made a clear statement that American music has ventured far beyond the noble traditions of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. How fitting that an artist indelibly linked with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians — which has been redefining music in America for nearly half a century — should carry that message forward."
- Howard Reich, "Pulitzer finalist Wadada Leo Smith symbolizes Chicago jazz power,"
Chicago Tribune, April 15, 2013


“A stunning achievement, with the dramatic sweet of the trumpeter’s writing (for both a chamber orchestra and his own small group)… It merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.”
- Francis Davis, Rhapsody Jazz Critics Poll

“His masterpiece." - Barry Witherden, BBC Music Magazine

“The veteran trumpeter’s defining statement.” - Mike Hobart, Financial Times

“The most challenging (and emotionally rewarding) release of 2012."
Bret Saunders, Denver Post

“A monumental achievement… With anthemic, roiling sounds designed to celebrate and embody the once-inextricable link between protest and music.”
- Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

Listen to interviews by Wadada Leo Smith about Ten Freedom Summers
WBGO, taped April 6 w/ Josh Jackson: edited/official interview aired June 18, 2013
"RAW TAPE: Wadada Leo Smith Ten Freedom Summers," aired April 29, 2013

WNYC, with John Schaefer: May 1, 2013 9pm

To read more about Ten Freedom Summers, please see:


About Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith, whose roots are in the Delta blues, is one of the most boldly original figures in American jazz and creative contemporary music, and one of the great trumpet players of our time. Born and raised in Leland, Mississippi, Smith start playing trumpet in R&B bands, encouraged by his stepfather, blues guitarist Alex Wallace. By the mid 1960s, he had gravitated to Chicago’s burgeoning avant-garde jazz community where he was part of the first generation of musicians to come out of Chicago’s AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Music). Smith formed the Creative Construction Company together with saxophonist Anthony Braxton and violinist Leroy Jenkins and collaborated with a dazzling cast of fellow visionaries including Muhal Richard Abrams, Richard Davis and Steve McCall. Early in his career, Smith invented an original music notational system called Anhkrasmation, which was radical for its time and remains the physical and philosophical foundation of his oeuvre.

Since the early 1970s, Smith has performed and recorded mainly with his own groups. He has released nearly 50 albums under either his own or his bands’ names on ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo, Intakt and Cuneiform, among others. In addition to the 4-CD Ten Freedom Summers, he also recently released two CDs on the TUM label: Ancestors, a duo CD with Louis Moholo-Moholo, and Occupy The World, a 2-CD set with the 21-member TUMO, a new improvising orchestra that was assembled specifically for this project.

Smith was named International Musician of the Year for 2012 by Musica Jazz Magazine and one of the New York City Jazz Record’s 2012 Musicians of the Year. In 2013 alone, Smith was recognized as one of three finalists, from among 157 entries, for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music; named 2013 Composer of the Year in DownBeat Magazine's 61st Annual Critics Poll; and named both 2013 Musician of the Year and 2013 Trumpeter of the Year at the Jazz Journalists Association Awards.

He has been awarded grants and fellowships from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Chamber Music America with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the FONT (Festival of New Trumpet Music) Award of Recognition, Southwest Chamber Music funded by the James Irvine Foundation and the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the MAP Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. An esteemed educator and music theorist, Smith has been on the Cal Arts faculty since 1993. At Cal Arts, he was director of the African American Improvisational Music Program and profoundly influenced several generations of artists.

About Ten Freedom Summers

Reviewing Ten Freedom Summers’ October 2011 live premiere at REDCAT in LA, Larry Blumenfeld wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “Ten Freedom Summers was as striking a display of his expansive vision and his vitality. He still plays trumpet as he always has: with little vibrato and a tone that can be either boldly declarative or soft to the point of breaking… Mr. Smith had made his own statement through instrumental music. And it sounded complete."

Ten Freedom Summers received equal acclaim on CD. Released in May 2012 on the Cuneiform label, it earned a place as the #3 jazz record of the year in the Rhapsody Jazz Critics poll, where respected critic Francis Davis wrote: “A stunning achievement…. It merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.” National Public Radio included the CD in its Top 50 albums of 2012 and it placed eighth in the 2012 JazzTimes Critics Poll, while music criticism aggregator MetaCritic hailed it as the #1 under-the-radar album of 2012. In addition, Smith was named International Musician of the Year for 2012 by Musica Jazz Magazine and he was one of the New York City Jazz Record’s 2012 Musicians of the Year.

The work is “stirringly beautiful … an astounding aesthetic achievement,” (Michael Casper, Oxford American), “an emotional and intellectual luxury, a chance to commune with greatness,” (Josh Langhoff, Pop Matters), “the work of a lifetime by one of jazz’s true visionaries. … Triumphant and mournful, visceral and philosophical, searching, scathing and relentlessly humane, Smith’s music embraces the turbulent era’s milestones while celebrating the civil rights movement’s heroes and martyrs.” (Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery), and “his magnum opus; it belongs in jazz's canonical lexicon with Duke Ellington's Black Brown & Beige and Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite.” (Thom Jurek, All Music Guide). As Stuart Broomer wrote in Point of Departure: "If one had to answer quickly what work will matter most this year in American music (as if matters of mattering arose with some regularity), Wadada Leo Smith's Ten Freedom Summers would trip readily to the tongue."

About Cuneiform Records

Based in the Washington DC area, Cuneiform Records is an internationally-acclaimed, independent record label devoted to releasing cutting-edge, adventurous music in a variety of musical genres, including jazz, rock, electronic, classical minimalism and much more. Much of the label’s music defies, redefines and transcends existing genres-leading the way in music’s evolution into new and arresting 21st Century forms.

Since its founding in 1984, Cuneiform has released more than 370 albums by some of the best composers and improvisers in the international avant garde. Cuneiform has released several notable recordings by Wadada Leo Smith, including his monumental, 4-disc set Ten Freedom Summers, a Finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Other Wadada Leo Smith recordings on Cuneiform include Heart’s Reflections; Spiritual Dimensions; and Tabligh. For more information on these, please see

Cuneiform’s recordings by other jazz artists include John Hollenbeck’s renowned small ensemble, The Claudia Quintet, Rob Mazurek and his Sao Paulo Underground, The Microscopic Septet, Jason Adasiewicz’s Rolldown; John Surman, Steve Lacy-Roswell Rudd Quartet, New York Art Quartet, Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, Mujician and many more.  Cuneiform’s rock/pop/electronic/beyond releases include recordings by the DC WAMMIE-award winning duo, Janel & Anthony; Richard Pinhas/Heldon, Henry Kaiser, David Borden/Mother Mallard, Steve Moore, Univers Zero, Blixt(Bill Laswell/Raoul Bjorkenheim/Morgan Agren), djTrio(Christian Marclay/Toshio Kajiwara/DJ Olive), Ahleuchatistas, Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, and many more.

Cuneiform is headquartered in downtown Silver Spring.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Kandinsky Effect in DC - June 18, 2014 for 'Alive at Five' at BioWall Plaza, Silver Spring, MD - FREE SHOW

Silver Spring's BioWall Plaza

Comes 'Alive at Five'

with a FREE concert by jazz/electronic trio

The Kandinsky Effect

- direct from Paris & NYC!! -

Wednesday June 18, 2014

Cutting Edge Music & Architecture at United Therapeutics' Campus in Downtown Silver Spring

The Kandinsky Effect at United Therapeutics' BioWall Plaza
Wednesday June 18th, 2014, 5pm-7pm
(Rain Date: June 19th, 12-1:30pm)
Corner of Cameron St. & Spring St. (1040 Spring St.,) Silver Spring, MD 20910

a Music Lab production
presented by Cuneiform Records & Sonic Circuits

On Wednesday, June 18th, one of the most exciting young jazz/electronica groups on the international 'post-jazz' scene - The Kandinsky Effect - will perform live at a FREE outdoor concert held at United Therapeutics' BioWall Plaza, a new urban space in downtown Silver Spring. The Kandinsky Effect's members are based in New York City and Paris, France; this will be the transatlantic trio's first-ever Washington D.C. area appearance. The trio use sax, bass, drums and electronics to merge acoustic and electronic sounds, creating music that is both energized and entrancing, danceable and compelling. Igloo Magazine called them "..full of creativity, individuality, expressivity and outside of the box thinking," and noted that their music "will appeal to fans of Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada, but also to fans of Squarepusher’s older work and of course to jazz aficionados...." Fans of music as wide ranging as indie and progressive rock can also find something to enjoy in this energetic and dynamic group.

The concert starts at 5 pm Wednesday June 18 and ends by 7 pm; rain date is the next day, Thursday June 19, from 12-1:30pm. BioWall Plaza is walking distance from the Red Line/Silver Spring Metro, and near metered street parking and county parking garages. Food is available for sale at nearby restaurants and food trucks.

We invite you to join us at this event, which promises to be an enchanting way to end your mid-week work (or vacation!) day. Enjoy Silver Spring as you've never done before: hearing an international ensemble's metro-DC premiere in an intimate and beautiful outdoor setting. BioWall Plaza is part of a new headquarters complex, notable for its striking contemporary architecture and “green” design, being built by biotech company United Therapeutics on downtown Silver Spring’s northern edge.

Cutting-edge music - and architecture - is thriving on the edge of downtown Silver Spring MD. Several Silver Spring-based music companies are helping drive DC's status as a mecca for innovative, experimental music. This year - 2014 - marks avant garde record label Cuneiform Records' 30th anniversary in downtown Silver Spring, and as part of its anniversary celebrations, it joins forces with concert presenter Sonic Circuits (coordinators of an experimental music festival in DC and a music series at Pyramid Atlantic) as Music Lab to invite the public to experience adventurous music and architecture first-hand.

"Transatlantic sax-bass-drums trio...adept at mixing creative jazz and electronics...
Ghostly washes of sound echo and float...otherworldly ambient treatment... 4/5 stars"
-All Music Guide

"...drawing its inspiration from contemporary dance and electronic musics, as well as from jazz... an egalitarian mix of acoustic and electronic sounds. The Kandinsky Effect manages this tricky combination with confidence, crafting music that stimulates the brain and the dancing shoes simultaneously."
-All About Jazz - -


The Kandinsky Effect - Synesthesia

Genre: Jazz / Electronica / Post-Jazz
Format: CD / Digital Download

"Johnny Utah" (mp3 download)

Conceived on Paris's cosmopolitan jazz scene, forged on the road in America, and informed by international currents in electronic music, The Kandinsky Effect is a jazz power trio for the 21st century. The trans-Atlantic band, based in New York City and Paris, makes its Cuneiform debut with Synesthesia, a roller-coaster ride of an album marked by fierce grooves, subtle electronic textures, intricate metrical shifts, and a commitment to empathic group interplay.

Featuring Warren Walker on saxophone and electronics, bassist Gaƫl Petrina, and drummer Caleb Dolister, The Kandinsky Effect explores a distinctive swath of sonic territory, inspired by similarly electronica-laced ensembles like Kneebody and Jaga Jazzist. With a long history as a cutting edge format, the saxophone, bass and drums trio is usually employed by horn players looking to explore harmonically unfettered improvisation. The Kandinsky Effect finds a different kind of freedom in the lack of a chordal instrument.

Steeped in improvisation and various post-bop vocabularies, the trio has honed a sound described by the Los Angeles Times as “bracing, electronically tweaked jazz.” It’s an approach that erases distinction between front line and rhythm section, as all three musicians constantly direct the music’s flow, changing arrangements and musical movements on the fly by employing several dozen hand cues and other methods. As the group states, "Our music doesn’t have to be harmonically complex to be interesting. The effects are almost a separate instrument. We think of ways to shape the effects around the tune. It’s never ending. Every gig is different and an experiment. The risk is what makes it happen."

Active since 2007, the group has toured extensively, hitting clubs and festivals all across the USA, Canada and Europe, including the Reykjavik Jazz Festival in Iceland, and the Angel City Jazz Fest in Los Angeles. The Kandinsky Effect released an eponymous debut album on SNP Records in 2010 that earned enthusiastic reviews. Their second album, Synesthesia, was released by Cuneiform Records in 2013. Recorded in Iceland, and featuring 11 tracks that were simultaneously rhythmically gorgeous, groove-laden, compositionally interesting and immediately accessible, Synesthesia received international acclaim.
"Few trends in popular music have made such an indelible impression on modern jazz as ‘90s innovations in drum-n-bass. The fragmented, lightning-paced beats of Squarepusher and Aphex Twin have been gleefully appropriated by today’s generation of percussionists and...effects pedals have made it create...electronic soundscapes once the signature of analog synthesizers. Paris/New York trio The Kandinsky Effect takes this approach, firmly grounding their electronic and rhythmic ideas in solid musicianship..... There is a fundamental expectation that a jazz record will be a document of a performance, as opposed to a sonic construction unto itself. The Kandinsky Effect does an amazing job of creating something that satisfies a listener’s expectations for both."
- The New York City Jazz Record

"Kandinsky Effect then continued its set of bracing, electronically tweaked jazz reminiscent of the bent funk-rock of the influential genre-mashing Seattle band Critters Buggin. Jazz review: Angel City Jazz Festival at the Ford Amphitheatre."
- Chris Barton, "Culture Monster Blog", Los Angeles Times, October 2, 2011

"Busy but subtle, drummer Caleb Dollister was the star of the Euro-jazz trio The Kandinsky Effect. While saxist Warren Walker jaked his knees behind simple lines, and electric bassist Gael Petrina plucked a driving groove, the real improv was going on kitside via Dollister's lighthanded sticks. ...tangy touches of electronic FX -- an easy group to like in a festival setting."
- Greg Burke, "Live reviews: Precious moments from Angel City Jazz Fest 2011, Sept. 24-Oct. 2," Metal Jazz, Oct. 6, 2011



SONIC CIRCUITS, headquartered in downtown Silver Spring, is a Washington, DC area presenter for experimental music. Its goal is to expose audiences to cutting edge contemporary music that defies genres, and offer artists new platforms to present their music and opportunities to network and collaborate with artists from around the world. Since 2001, Sonic Circuits has organized an annual festival that brings world-class avant-garde musicians like Fennesz, Richard Pinhas & Merzbow, Magma and Faust to DC, spotlights the local music scene, and attracts local, national and international audiences. The Sonic Circuits Festival has been held in a wide range of venue, including the Atlas Center for Performing Arts (2013, 2012), the French Embassy (2010), Warehouse Next Door (2009) and many more. As part of its 2011 Festival, Sonic Circuits presented a free outdoor performance of Terry Riley’s “In C” by a 22-piece ensemble (including Janel Leppin on cello), conducted by Anthony Pirog, at Silver Spring’s Civic Center/Veterans Plaza. In addition to the festival, Sonic Circuits programs a year-round series of experimental music concerts at Pyramid Atlantic in downtown Silver Spring. Sonic Circuits is presented in part by Improv Arts Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to supporting the artistic and career development of artists and creating new markets for contemporary music. For more information, please see:


CUNEIFORM RECORDS, one of the most longstanding and widely respected record labels in the international avant-garde music scene, has been based in downtown Silver Spring since its founding in 1984.  It specializes in cutting-edge music that challenges, redefines and/or transcends genres, including rock (avant-progressive, experimental, R.I.O., chamber rock), jazz, electronic, classical, ambient/world and much more.  Over 30 years, it has released, distributed and internationally promoted at least 370 recordings by many of the world’s best avant-garde artists. Besides The Kandinsky Effect, Cuneiform's roster includes such fast-rising stars as John Hollenbeck's The Claudia Quintet, Rob Mazurek's Sao Paulo Underground, Steve Moore, and The Ahleuchatistas, in addition to such long-established avant-garde icons as Wadada Leo Smith, Soft Machine, Richard Pinhas/Heldon, Univers Zero, David Borden/Mother Mallard Portable Masterpiece Co., Robert Wyatt and more. Cuneiform releases frequently appear in music critic’s Best of Year lists. In recent years, Cuneiform itself has placed in the top 10 contemporary jazz/Creative Music labels worldwide in several international critics polls (New York City Jazz Record/USA; El Intruso International Critics Poll-Argentina (ranked at #2; above ECM at #3!); Musica Jazz-Italy, DownBeat-USA). In 2013, one of Cuneiform’s releases, Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers, a monumental musical tribute to the Civil Rights movement, was named one of the three official finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Music, the most prestigious award in American music.  For more information on Cuneiform, see:


BIOWALL PLAZA is a radically unique, multi-dimensional public space that integrates cutting-edge architecture and landscape design, nature and technology, and art/vision with music/sound. It is part of an architecturally striking complex of buildings being built in downtown Silver Spring by United Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focusing on the development and commercialization of unique products to address the unmet needs of patients with chronic and life-threatening conditions. Designed by Schick Goldstein Architects, the United Therapeutics complex won a 2010 LEED Gold Award for Excellence in new Building Design and Construction from the US Green Building Council. Located on Cameron Street between Spring and Fenton, one block north of Colesville Road, BioWall Plaza fronts the complex’s main entrance. Designed by landscape architect Oehme van Sweden & Associates, who also designed the World War II Memorial in Washington in DC and various projects at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, the New York Botanical Garden, and elsewhere, BioWall Plaza is a circular, stone-paved outdoor space featuring a fountain, native plantings, and sculptural seating (some illuminated internally with shifting colors) that face a 16”x 9” video screen displaying nature scenes. Ambient music emerges from hidden sound sources on the plaza and along nearby sidewalks. A unique urban space that feels at once open and intimate, organic and carefully composed, BioWall Plaza is an ideal setting to hear The Kandinsky Effect perform their music, music at once global and intimate. For more information on BioWall Plaza and Oehme, van Sweden’s other landscape projects, see:

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Microscopic Septet's 'Manhattan Moonrise' Album Release Show on June 12 at Small’s Jazz Club

New York City!
Come Celebrate the Release of Manhattan Moonrise 
with The Microscopic Septet 
on June 12, 2014 at Small’s Jazz Club


Thursday, June 12, 2014
2 sets, 9.30PM / 11PM
Small's Jazz Club
183 West 10th St., NYC, NY
cover: $20

The Microscopic Septet's June 12th concert at Small's is a "Must See" for NYC jazz fans. Not only is it the official Record Release Party for Manhattan Moonrise, but also the Micros' only Summer 2014 NY appearance.

The Micros will play two sets, featuring selections from Manhattan Moonrise as well as from their previous release, Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk.

NYC & CA Bay Area Friends!
Make sure to also see the JOEL FORRESTER / PHILLIP JOHNSTON DUO CONCERTS on June 10 & 15, 2014 [scroll down for more info]



The Microscopic Septet, NYC’s Fave Purveyors of Swing,
Roar Back into the Limelight with
Manhattan Moonrise,
an Album of 21st Century Tunes Dedicated to their Beloved Manhattan

"Let's Coolerate One" (mp3 download)stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

Release Date: 5/27/2014 - Genre: Jazz
Format: CD / Digital Download

Track Listing
1. When You Get In Over Your Head (3:50)
2. No Time (5:51)
3. Manhattan Moonrise (8:15)
4. Obeying the Chemicals (3:22)
5. A Snapshot Of the Soul (4:13)
6. Star Turn (5:13)
7. Hang It On a Line (5:49)
8. Let's Coolerate One (5:13)
9. Suspended Animation (5:02)
10. Blue (4:14)
11. You Got That Right! (4:57)
12. Occupy Your Life (5:15)

The Microscopic Septet is
Phillip Johnston: soprano saxophone
Don Davis: alto saxophone
Mike Hashim: tenor saxophone
Dave Sewelson: baritone saxophone
Joel Forrester: piano
Dave Hofstra: bass
Richard Dworkin: drums

Music lovers and romantics entranced with New York City’s jazz life, take note: The Microscopic Septet are back in the jazz spotlight, disproving F. Scott Fitzgerald’s comment that there are no second acts in American lives. Since roaring back into action in 2006 after a 14-year hiatus, the indefatigably creative ensemble has continued to evolve, burnishing and extending a well-earned reputation as one of the most consistently inventive jazz bands of the 1980s and 2000s/2010s. Reverently irreverent, insistently playful, unfussily virtuosic and unapologetically swinging, the band offers further evidence of its resurgence with Manhattan Moonrise, the Micros’ first project with newly composed originals in 25 years.

With co-founders pianist Joel Forrester and soprano saxophonist Phillip Johnston crafting all the album’s compositions and arrangements the band plays with the loose-limbed precision of a dance orchestra in the midst of a six-month tour. The strength of the Micros flows from the old-school virtue of consistency. Along with the co-founders, the seven-piece ensemble features largely the same cast of improvisers with which it emerged from Manhattan’s wild and wooly Downtown scene in 1980. Drummer Richard Dworkin, baritone saxophonist David Sewelson, bassist David Hofstra, and altoist Don Davis (who replaced John Zorn in 1981) have all been along for almost the entire Microscopic journey, while tenor saxophonist Mike Hashim joined the fold in 2006.

Manhattan Moonrise touches on the band’s entire three and half decade history, with several previously unrecorded tunes from the Micros’ early years, like Forrester’s lushly orchestrated “No Time,” which sounds like a catchy back page from Cedar Walton’s songbook. Johnston’s brief but scorching “Obeying The Chemicals” is another early piece, a deliciously telegraphic booting barrelhouse romp. And then there’s the new work, like Forrester’s episodic Beethoven-inflected closer “Occupy Your Life.”

Whatever the music’s vintage, it shares the unmistakable Micro stamp, a convivial marriage of ingenious craftsmanship and extroverted improvisation. If the band has a patron saint, it’s clearly Thelonious Sphere Monk, whose presence is manifest in the Micros’ cagey humor, harmonic syntax and hurtling rhythms. In much the same way that Monk’s music existed apart from contemporaneous bebop, drawing directly on Ellington and Harlem stride piano while inhabiting its own avant-garde zone, the Micros are avid students of jazz history but unburdened by revivalist notions.

“I've always considered that the Microscopic Septet presents an outward show of being a ‘revival’ outfit,” Forrester says. “But what we attempt to revive...never existed. A revival of the future, then?”

The future has never sounded so hip.



NYC & CA Bay Area Friends!

Micros co-leaders/composers Joel Forrester and Phillip Johnston will be playing concerts as a duo on both the East and West Coasts. They have been playing together as a duo for nearly 35 years, and released a duo recording, Jazz Times called their Live At The Hillside, “a masterpiece of intimacy, energy and synergy". This rare Bay Area duo appearance is their first since the recording of their live CD in Berkeley CA in 2011.

Joel Forrester/Phillip Johnston Duo
Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
7:00 pm
121 Ludlow St.
Joel Forrester/Phillip Johnston Duo
Sunday, June 15th, 2014
68 19th St, Oakland, CA 94612, USA